The Verde Pride award for Business of the Year goes to Mary Arkush of Jerona Java Café at 677 E. Mingus Ave. in Cottonwood.
“First of all, I was surprised,” Mary said about winning the award. “Second of all, I was thrilled.”
More than five years ago, Mary moved to Cottonwood from the Midwest and opened Jerona Java Café, known for its warm and friendly atmosphere.
One of the nominating letters said Mary is a member of the El Valle Artists’ Association and that she has given the group a venue at her café for the group to show its works of art. She also allows space for the artists’ group to hold workshops.
Another nomination letter said Mary’s café is always open to help business groups and organizations that need a place for meetings or workshops. The nomination said that Mary continues to expand her role in the community by holding monthly drive-in events for classic car enthusiasts as well as motorcycle clubs.
“I’ve been an artist all of my life,” Mary said. But she has never before been in the food business. “I’ve never even been a waitress.”
When she came to Cottonwood, Mary envisioned her business as a small art gallery and gift shop that serves coffee. But the business kept evolving, and now she is doing a lot of catering.
“We’ve got a small crew,” Mary said. “It is really a one-man band. I’m really busy.”
She said they appreciate every nickel and dime that comes through the business. So Mary and her crew does everything they can to encourage people to gather at her café.
“Every day, people tell us it’s a great place to gather,” Mary said. “We try to make this a community gathering spot.” She said that is simply her philosophy of how a business should relate to its community.
The automobile events are continuing to grow and gather more interest. “My husband has been a motor head all of his life,” she said.
Mary said they wanted to do a cruise-in so guys could come in and talk cars. “We love for them to gather here,” she said, “and it’s growing.”
Last Saturday about 15 classic cars cruised to the café from Prescott.
The Jerona Java Café offers free wireless Internet access. Anyone who mentions the café’s website will get a free coffee on their first visit. Check out the website at jerona.com.